Thursday, 21 June, 2018

Obama admin lied about Iran market access

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaks during a press conference in Tehran Iran Saturday Aug. 30 2014. Rouhani called Western sanctions an Obama administration tried secret bank workaround for Iran, new report says
Kenny Thornton | 09 June, 2018, 20:35

Even after Former President Barack Obama told Congress Iran would be barred from the US financial system, he gave them access anyway.

The $5.7 billion was frozen in Oman's Bank Muscat in that country's currency, the rial, which is pegged to the USA dollar and hard to convert.

"A State Department official even suggested that Secretary Kerry or Secretary Lew should contact the US banks and encourage them to facilitate the conversion", the report goes on to say, "Both banks declined to complete the transaction due to compliance, reputational, and legal risks associated with doing business with Iran". Senior U.S. government officials repeatedly testified to Congress that Iranian access to the U.S. financial system was not on the table or part of any deal.

He said he'd reimpose sanctions and work with US allies to "find a real, comprehensive and lasting solution to the Iranian nuclear threat". The banks refused, however. "Going forward, this report underscores how important the USA financial system is to global finance markets".

"We owe it to the American people to get to the bottom of whatever else the Obama administration sacrificed at the altar of the Iran deal". Rob Portman, R-Ohio, have revealed in a new report that the Obama administration secretly tried to help Iran use US banks to convert $5.7 billion in Iranian assets, after promising Congress that Iran would not get access to the USA financial system - and then lied to Congress about what it had done.

The findings are at odds with statements from senior Obama White House, State Department and Treasury Department officials who repeatedly said Iran would continue to lack access to the USA financial and commercial markets following the implementation of the Iran deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In July 2015, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that, under the JCPOA, Iran "will continue to be denied access to the [U.S.] financial and commercial market".

The Senate disapproved the deal in September 2015, but not by enough votes to sink it.

McGurn said scandals are the norm in most administrations, but he finds the Obama administration's dealings with Iran in a category of its own that involve misleading Congress and the public.

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The report says the revelation shows the importance of global access to the US financial system, a factor that should be considered in future negotiations with Iran.

"Shortly after issuing the specific license to use the USA financial system to convert the rials, a Treasury official wrote in an email on the matter, 'I think we earned the right to never discuss this matter ever again.' I disagree", Portman told his fellow Senators.

"As Secretary Lew said in the testimony quoted in the report: 'Part of the agreement was to give Iran access to money that it has a right to". The Obama administration then asked two USA banks to execute the transactions, and they refused to do so. It was created to allow Iran to briefly convert into dollars from Omani rials about $5.7 billion worth of Iranian assets frozen in an Omani bank. Because the rial is pegged to the USA dollar, the most efficient conversion was with an intermediary step through a US bank using US dollars. Both banks declined to complete the transaction due to compliance, reputational and legal risks associated with doing business with Iran.

After Treasury officials were examining whether the Iran deal's relevant sanctions permit currency exchange of rials to dollars, the report says a Treasury official wrote in an email, "Yikes".

That same week, the AP reported that the Treasury had prepared a draft of a license that would have given Iran much broader permission to convert its assets from foreign currencies into easier-to-spend currencies like euros, yen or rupees, by first exchanging them for dollars at offshore financial institutions.

"In the future, whether it is another (Iran) agreement".

The Administration was crystal clear to Congress on this point.

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